By Rouben MEGHRABYAN Editor-in-Chief of the Russian service of the First Armenian Information www.1in.am Yerevan
“The nation has been laid in the dust, it well may be forever…”
Winston Churchill about Armenia,
after the Treaty of Lausanne, 1923.
2011 has become the 20th year for the Independent Armenia, an independent country that by all rules of political prognostication had no chance to be such, equal among almost 200 likes on the global map, after what it had suffered during and after the World War One. But Independence is a fact, just as the fact is that the great Englishman made a mistake.
However, Churchill was contemporary to the events of 1918-1920, then up to 1923, and an indirect witness of what we did in the period of our First Republic, what we did with it, our Independence, as a result. Summing up all that, bearing the “bold seal” of Lausanne, the future British Prime Minister could not suppose anything else. The rest has come afterwards, and the Providence granted us, our generation of Armenians, to be contemporaries and actors of that.
What have we done with our current, already 20 year-old independence? And more importantly, what we have not done, being independent?
We have not achieved acceptable relations with our neighbors, with whom we have to live for centuries. We have not solved our contradictions with Turkey or resolved our conflict with Azerbaijan, i.e. Armenia has not become so self-sufficient to guarantee peace and its own security. We won the war, but now we are losing peace. We still set our hopes for Russia’s goodwill, which will help us “on the off chance,” despite the fact that it firmly goes to a new wave of destabilization, maybe a new wave of disintegration, failing to find any modus-vivendi neither for its own citizens, its relations with neighbors, nor its own place in this changing world.
We have been unable so far to formulate and shape our relations with Russia at a proper level, forgetting who we ceased to depend on, when we became independent. In our relations with Russia we have found ourselves between the past and the future, being afraid to take a decisive step forward and trying to deceive time.
In addition, we have not shaped an economic system, appropriate to the needs of citizens, opening their undeniable talents, giving the opportunity to honestly and decently earn money for themselves and let our state grow rich thanks to their taxes. That is why we can meet needy Armenians only in Armenia. Instead, we have created monopolies, killing the initiative in economy and in life, as a whole, poisoning the political, economic, public and moral climate. Being afraid of flying freely, we have given ourselves up to the former metropolitan state for a gas “pottage,” wholly and stupidly giving it our energy, communications, as well as factories and plants, which have not started working anyway.
And we have not created a political system, guaranteeing or defending the freedom of a citizen, letting the free citizen to bring benefit to the society and country through his voluntary service; a system, able to aim the huge patriotic potential at a creative course; a system, designed to let us elect the best and worthiest among us, who would be able to take the responsibility not only for themselves, but also for the others and the country as a whole. We are still discussing the topics that had already been exhausted in Montesquiue’s and Rousseau’s times, but not forgetting to consider ourselves as a part of the European civilization. But we are still paying a tax, on which a policeman lives, the one who beats the citizens, but not the one who defends them; just as a tax inspector, an official, a customs officer, the ones, who rob a taxpayer, but not the ones who are thankful to him. So it is we who have nurtured the power of mediocre and half-educated people, losers and “pilferers” from the lower levels of the kolkhoz-comsomol pyramid of the Soviet times.
Not having done all that, many of us are still inclined to take umbrage at the “country” and the “nation,” trying to find the embodiment of our aspiration to happiness and the equality in such an aspiration not in Armenia, but outside it, following the example of the 80% of all our, now former, compatriots. So while they have found themselves there because of the historical tragedies, economical cataclysms or due to their own passion to search and find the unknown latitudes and opportunities, then today’s offenses are based only on the stubborn misunderstanding of what is going on around us and what we must do. We are citizens of a country, its residents, taxpayers, people, liable for military service – all we have not formulated the rules, according to which we should live altogether. The code of such rules, fixed in a document, called Constitution, has become something, neglected by the authorities and cynically treated by the citizens.That is why our 20 year old independent country will be still in wanderings and delusions for some time among the historical self-destroying stereotypes, regarding both: the region, where we live, and us, ourselves.
At the same time, a multi-thousand constellation of the citizens of the Independent Armenia has appeared in Armenian towns and villages; they are not only decent masters of their fate, but also decent heirs of what we have achieved shedding blood, sweat and tears, having become one of just two hundred nations, honored to have their own state. And these citizens are destined to organize themselves, to shape their own authority in accordance with the Constitution, based on the highest value – the human being and human rights, as far as without that value the word “homeland” loses its sense. Meanwhile freedom and free citizens are just the goal, and at the same time the content of what is called homeland, about which we not only compose songs, but we also live there and bring up our children. And only this way, having chosen and laid this path, we will get confidence that this time Independence is forever.